Manchester United have been in the limelight even before the actual transfer market started. With the much-awaited sensational signing of Jose Mourinho as manager, after a dismal season with Louis van Gaal, Mourinho has managed to thrust the Red Devils further in the spotlight with his high-profile signings and subsequent success at doing so.
It pretty much became evident last season that Manchester United were a dying club. Aside from more motivation, the squad also required a massive overhaul, in order to employ better playing tactics.
The 3 confirmed deals of United so far have been – Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Eric Bailly and Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Here’s a look at what each of them will be able to get to the team!
1. Zlatan Ibrahimovic:
Mourinho’s previous spells in the Premier League suggest Zlatan will most likely find himself operating as the focal point of a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-3-3 formation.
Although a midfield three of Herrera, Schneiderlin and Mkhitaryan sounds delightful, there is one very obvious drawback to this system. United are currently having an overdose of potential number 10s within their squad and Zlatan can play there as well if needed, though he is much better alone up front all by himself. One answer to this dilemma could be to restart the diamond formation, which was used under both Sir Alex Ferguson and Louis Van Gaal.
The diamond allows for the deployment of Ibrahimovic in the number ten role coupled with the speed of Martial and Rashford ahead of him. As a man who can score from anywhere in any situation, Zlatan would surely be just as devastating from range as he would be in a front two.
2. Eric Bailly:
Bailly is known for his pace – the way in which he allows the attacking player to feel like they have an extra yard of space before using his speed to pickpocket the player. He is extremely athletic and well built, possibly meaning that he wouldn’t be as prone to injury as most of United’s players.
He is good on the ball as well, and loves taking risks and loves playing out from the back – and this is probably the fresh change that United need after a season of depressing defensive plays. Combined with these is the fact that he has a very good sense of positioning, with 5.43 clearances and 0.71 blocks on an average per game, which is more than any of the Manchester United centre-backs.
However – while Bailly provides a wonderful prospect for Manchester United – getting accustomed to the Premier League will take him some time, as his predecessor from Villarreal, Gabriel Paulista found out at Arsenal.
3. Henrikh Mkhitaryan:
A creative attacking midfielder, Mkhitaryan registered 11 goals and 15 assists last season in 31 Bundesliga appearances for Borussia Dortmund, being voted the Players’ Player of the Season in the process as they finished second behind Bayern Munich.
While naturally more of a No 10, he also has the speed and skill to play out wide and the calmness and composure to play deeper as a central midfielder. That adaptability will be highly valued by Jose Mourinho, who has always favoured a 4-2-3-1 formation in recent years and tends to deploy a fluid attacking trio behind a main striker who can all rotate roles.
All this definitely singles him out as a player who must be watched or more importantly marked.